News release

Knighthood for University of Southampton's V-C

Ref: 09/85

13 June 2009

Professor Sir William Wakeham

University's Vice-Chancellor knighted in Birthday Honours

The University of Southampton's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham, has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours, announced today, for services to chemical engineering and higher education.

Bill Wakeham has been Vice-Chancellor at Southampton since 2001, and overseen a period in which Southampton has firmly established itself as one of the UK's leading research universities and among the top 100 in the world.

Under his leadership, the University has further enhanced its strong reputation for excellence in both teaching and research, and invested significantly in world-class facilities and learning resources.

Over this period, its annual turnover has nearly doubled, from £214 million in 2001, to the current figure approaching £400 million. The University has also established itself as a key player in the south coast region. With over 22,000 students and 5,000 staff, it is one of Hampshire's major employers.

Professor Wakeham has shown outstanding commitment to developing the knowledge economy in the region, with research activity at Southampton providing the impetus.

Southampton has also become one of the foremost entrepreneurial universities in the UK, launching numerous successful spin-out companies in such fields as oil and gas exploration, drug development, materials science, nanotechnology, optoelectronics, microelectronics and silicon fabrication.

"I'm delighted and very honoured by this award," comments Sir William. "It has been made possible, though, by the colleagues with whom I have worked over the years and by the support of my family. I would like to share this honour with them."

A physicist by training, Sir William has spent much of his career in the field of chemical engineering. His academic speciality is thermodynamics, particularly the thermophysical properties of fluids and intermolecular forces. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and the Institute of Physics.

A graduate of Exeter University, where he completed both his first and higher degree in physics, he is both a chartered engineer and a chartered physicist. His scholarship has been recognised by many awards from overseas and by honorary degrees from universities in the UK and China. He is also a Fellow of Imperial College.

Other roles include membership of the board of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA); chair of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA); membership of the EPSRC Council and chairing its Resource Audit Committee. Professor Wakeham recently also chaired the 2008 Review of Physics in the UK at the request of the then Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

As Vice-Chancellor at Southampton, Bill Wakeham has played a leading role in regional affairs, chairing SEEDA's South East Science, Engineering and Technology Advisory Committee (SESETAC), and being an active member of the board of the Southampton Strategic Partnership. Among other professional activities, he has had roles as a non-executive director of COGENT, the sector skills council for chemicals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymers; a non-executive director of Meridian TV; and an executive member of the Worldwide Universities Network.


Notes for editors

  1. Professor Sir William Wakeham has authored, co-authored or edited seven books and published over 350 papers in the open scientific and engineering literature in the research fields of thermophysical properties of fluids, intermolecular forces and thermodynamics.

    In 1997 he was awarded the Touloukian Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was Rossini Lecturer at the International Conference on Chemical Thermodynamics, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2000; and Ared Cezairliyan Lecturer at the International Thermal Conductivity Conference in 2001.

    Before joining Southampton, Bill Wakeham had a career spanning 30 years at Imperial College, where he was Deputy Rector from 1997.